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There's cold, and then there's polar cold

By Izaskun E. Larrañeta

Publication: theday.com

Published January 22. 2014 8:00AM   Updated January 23. 2014 1:32PM
Tim Cook/The Day
A lone Connecticut College student makes his way through the freshly fallen snow on Temple Green in single digit temperatures on the Connecticut College campus in New London Wednesday Jan. 21, 2014.
Upside-down weather means it's warmer up north

If you can't stand the cold, head to Anchorage, Alaska, because it's warmer there than here.

"It's absolutely crazy," Gary Lessor, a meteorologist with the Western Connecticut State University Weather Center, said Wednesday, a day that saw temperatures creep into the 20s. "It's 40 degrees in Alaska. Unfortunately, for the next two to three weeks, thanks to the polar vortex, we will be seeing temperatures way below normal."

Lessor said in layman's terms, the polar vortex simply means that the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere is locked in the northeast quarter of the country, making it unseasonably cold.

The snowstorm that began Tuesday afternoon and ended Wednesday morning brought about 8 inches in Groton, although Lessor said that accurate snowfall totals would be hard to figure because the wind compacted the fluffy snow.

The National Weather Service reported that Colchester received 7.5 inches of snow, Norwich 7 inches and
Ledyard about 6 inches.

Most school districts in the region closed in response to the overnight snow.

Jason Gallup, whose family owns Professional Grounds Maintenance in Waterford, was shoveling the sidewalk on Eugene O'Neill Drive in New London at about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.

He said his crew had been working almost nonstop since about 2 p.m. Tuesday. He said the fluffy snow is easy to shovel so it isn't terribly taxing on the back.

"This is about the eighth storm that we had to respond to," he said. "It's getting pretty tiring. I'm about done and looking forward to spring."

But Lessor said thanks to the polar vortex, winter will be long and drawn out and miserably cold, with temperatures at some points dipping below zero when the wind chill is factored in.

He said temperatures are running about 15 degrees below normal.

Today, we can expect a high of 20 degrees, but with the wind chill it will feel as low as minus 12 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

"This is the weather for southeastern Canada, not Connecticut," Lessor said. "It's just going to be extremely cold."

i.larraneta@theday.com

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